TEDRA is an acronym under Washington State law for the Trust and Estates Dispute Resolution Act. The state statutes can be found under chapter 11.96A RCW. TEDRA is a procedural framework for the conduct and resolution of disputed issues which can often arise in the context of the probate of an estate or a guardianship or trust proceeding.
A “TEDRA Petition” is a form of a lawsuit which is used to bring the disputed issue before the Court with jurisdiction over the probate or guardianship estate or trust. In a TEDRA Petition, the Court is made aware of the existence of the dispute and asked to grant the relief requested by the “Petitioner”. The other interested parties to the probate or guardianship or trust proceeding are given notice of the fact that the Petition has been brought before the Court by the issuance of a TEDRA summons, and have a right to also file an answer or response to the Petition in which they can object to the relief being requested.
The disputed issues in the TEDRA petition can then be resolved by Court or by the parties themselves in one of four ways:
- By a hearing on the merits of the Petition and responses to the Petition before a Judge if there are no disputed facts and the Court is only being asked to rule on an issue of law.
- By a trial of disputed facts before the Court – typically a bench trial meaning that the issues are decided by the judge instead of a jury.
- By mediation of the disputed issues between all of the parties interested in the dispute in which all of the parties are brought together before a mediator who attempts to get the parties to agree to a compromise and resolve the dispute through a signed agreement.
- By arbitration before an arbitrator in which the arbitrator (selected by the parties and appointed by the Court) rules on the disputed issues of fact and law.
Any person who is a party to a TEDRA petition is at a significant disadvantage if they are not represented by an attorney with substantial experience in litigating probate or guardianship or trust proceedings. Newton Kight LLP has a number of experienced litigators and often uses a team approach in representing their clients in TEDRA petitions.